In the past, I spent weeks compiling massive New Year’s resolutions lists. I scrambled around to make sure I listed everything I wanted to work on in the coming year and good reasons for why. Two years ago, my resolutions list was two pages long. Typed. With fancy fonts and a neat little border and Scripture references to back up my resolutions because I tend to go whole hog whenever I decide to do something.
Last year, I decided to switch things up for 1) the sake of my sanity 2) the sake of actually having a shot at reaching my goals. I deal with not reaching my own impossibly high expectations from time to time (to put it mildly), so I figured down-sizing would be a nice change of pace.
So what did I do? I picked a word for 2013, and I left it very open-ended:
You can click here to read about why I chose this word, but here’s a quick recap of what it meant to me:
“May 2013 be an exciting time in which I strive to know God, know His promises, know His truths, and know His Word.”
And here is the verse I attached to it:
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
– Jeremiah 29:13
Basically, I wanted to know my King like never before. I wanted to grow in my knowledge of his Word and in my faith in His promises. I wanted to feel His presence every moment, and I wanted to open my heart and pray with more vulnerability…because although He knows the very essence of my soul, sometimes I try to cover up the dark, scary corners of my heart.
So, did I reach my goal? Can I honestly say that today I am stronger in my faith than I was at this time last year?
I’ll never stop learning, growing, and knowing the love of my Lord. I’ll never know all there is to know about His character and His beautiful ways. I’ll never be able to fully grasp His grace and His mercy and why He chooses to use a perfectionist with a big mouth and a drama queen complex for His perfect purpose. But I can really, truly, honestly say I’ve grown since last January.
Believe it or not, the ways in which I grew to know more about God happened when He revealed Himself to me when I least expected it. Yes, I memorized some Scripture verses and I read my Bible and I listened to worship music in my car and I read some great books, but it was through my circumstances that God revealed more of His character to me…
It happened when life as I knew it hit a major speed bump that scattered everything I thought I knew about a lot of things.
It happened in my weakest moments, through whispered pleas, through angry tears, quaking fears, and confessions of I can’t do this without You.
It happened when I wondered, Now what? and when I dropped my head into my hands and said, I have no idea what’s going on, but I’m going to trust You anyway.
It happened in moments when I just had to fall to my knees and say Thank You.
It happened when I led a Bible study for a group of teen girls over the summer even though I’d never done anything like that before.
It happened when I immersed myself into the Word and tried with renewed vigor to apply God’s standards for heart purity to my life before I passed them on to my girls.
It happened when I stood in front of a crowded room and shared my testimony with quivering knees and clammy palms and a Divine confidence I couldn’t even fake on my own.
It happened in leading another Bible study, this time for college girls my own age, even though I still felt under qualified but knew it’s what I was supposed to be doing.
It happened in giving class presentations about people of faith and the history of churches in my city…at my public university.
It happened in moments of sharing the Good News with nonbelievers and telling them the reason for my hope.
It happened when I learned to stop and really listen to people’s stories of heartache and triumph, of doubts and questions, while learning to love unconditionally like Jesus did. Like Jesus does.
It happened in realizing I actually love leading small groups and giving presentations and sharing His Good News with others and hearing people’s stories…and that, actually, I kind of thrive on it.
It happened when I was given a huge, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to chase a dream even though it wasn’t exactly normal.
It happened when God lined up all of the pieces and set up moments of inspiration and hand-picked the exact circumstances I needed to start following the call placed on my heart.
It happened in unexpected hellos and unexpected goodbyes.
Basically, it happened in the unexpected.
And it’s still happening, even in mid-January 2014. Even as I’ve come across a new word that God is already using to speak volumes to my soul.
Thank God, He will never stop walking me through life, pointing out evidence of grace and reasons for placing me right where I am, right at this moment.
In 2013, I learned more of what it’s like to look for the beauty in the small moments. It’s a weird example because I live in the South, but those moments are like snowflakes: they’re tiny, yet so intricate and unique they can never come from chance and they can never be replicated.
And they’re only here for a second before they melt away, leaving us with tingling fingers and wonder-filled eyes and priceless memories of where we’ve been.
In 2013, I learned a little more about experiencing joy even in the middle of heartache. I learned a little more about choosing to praise Him in trials, choosing to forgive, and choosing to live my life for Christ even when it’s not the easiest option—but knowing it’s really the only option for a life of contentment and fulfillment and purpose.
In 2013, I learned to be more honest, both with myself and with God. I learned more about handing Him my mess and trusting Him to take all of the bad and turn it into something He uses for my good.
In summary, 2013 was a big year. As I venture into 2014, I leave behind a lot of baggage and I inhale a fresh breath of newness and rebirth and more opportunities for growth. I practice slowing down and taking smaller steps so I don’t miss a single significant moment. I pray I’ll learn how to quiet my brain and heart so that I can focus on just being in any given moment, fully and devotedly. I ask God to show me ways to be exactly who He made me to be even when that’s not exactly popular. I begin to focus on living more life and taking more pictures and going on more adventures…and blabbing about it all less, because I think there’s something sacred in keeping things between you and someone else—you and God—and treasuring them quietly in your heart.
It’s why my word for 2014 is BE.
It’s kind of funny because, as a writer, I’m trained to weed out extra words and often, be words are some of them. Like saying, “I’ll be making some changes this year,” when you should really say, “I’m making some changes this year.” Or “I’m being serious,” rather than “I’m serious.” It’s what I practice all the time as I rewrite a novel.
And yet, I want more being in my life this year. I want to learn to be with less distractions and more focus on what—Who—matters most.
I don’t know what’s in store for 2014, but I can honestly say I’m very excited about it. And I can honestly say that what matters most to me is being a reflection of the Savior I desire to know – stepping back and letting Him shine.
A verse to sum all of this up:
“Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
– Psalm 46:10 (emphasis added)
I am resolutely Yours, Lord. Completely, whole-heartedly Yours.
In His love,
P.S. Do you have a resolution for 2014? I’d love to hear about it!